The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

March 24, 2014

Our Readers Speak — Monday, March 24, 2014

Vote no on double tax for fire departments

In light of a recent Monroe County approval, a vote for a so-called new “Volunteer Fire Department” (VFD) tax levy will be held in May. It is my rightful and legal concern that this impending so-called “new tax” will be double charged to the majority of citizens. We are already paying for this service.

State Treasurer John Perdue shows that when a citizen pays his mortgage, the lender requires fire and casualty insurance. This is transferred by the state insurance commissioner to the state treasurer, then evenly dispersed quarterly to the VFDs.

Our VFDs received $47,000 every three months. Conversely, half is absorbed by compliance costs. The remainder is used to train people, equip them and fight fires. In theory, our local VFD would consume 100 percent of their remaining budget by fighting about two fires per quarter by converting their services to dollars. In FY2013, $180,729.14 was dispersed to our VFDs by insured policies. This tax levy requires $4 per 10,000.00 of taxable property.

Each VFD claims they are funded by donations only, which is wrong. When a county commissioner is also a volunteer firefighter, I find it to be a conflict of interest. In this case, the county commission is dead wrong for not doing their due diligence to confirm double taxation.

In FY2013, the state treasurer notified the public that an additional 1 percent increase was allocated to be “levied” on fire and casualty insurance policies; in effect my VFD got a raise; be it enough or not is not my problem. I am paying my appropriate share already. The appropriate action would be:

“Seek out” in- or out-of-state “property owners” with or without structures including cars of Monroe County. A VFD taxation on these two qualifiers would generate greater funding. If implemented, I require the county commissioner to successfully petition the state insurance commissioner to make my fire and casualty Insurance no longer required and I can divert this money locally.

The VFD then becomes essentially public property with much more liability then our VFDs currently enjoy “not having.” I personally will vote no for this item. It’s mostly not my problem that there are people out there who are riding on the backs of the VFD free of charge.

If the VFD chooses to take this seriously, they will stop taking more from the taxpayers contributing to the national GDP and start extracting monies from those who currently contribute nothing yet get the same services I do including out-of-state land owners.

J. Scott Cassity

Gap Mills

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